Groundwork Applauds Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’ Bill to Extend Federal Unemployment Benefits

September 15, 2021 Groundwork Collaborative

This week, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will introduce a new bill to extend federal unemployment benefits. The federal unemployment benefits expired on Sept. 6 — leaving millions of Americans without this essential lifeline. If passed, the enhanced jobless aid would be retroactive to Sept. 6 and extended until Feb. 1, 2022. 

Dr. Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at Groundwork Collaborative, responded to the news with the following statement:

“Allowing unemployment benefits to lapse when so many workers and families are still suffering from the devastating health and economic effects of the pandemic was a colossal mistake. With Black unemployment still at crisis levels and the Delta variant surging, we simply cannot afford to turn our backs on the workers, families, and communities who power our economy. We have a real opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the Great Recession and drive an economic recovery that works for all families – and this legislation would bring us one important step closer to that.

“We urge Congress to extend these lifesaving benefits without delay.”


  • Ending UI benefits early did not bring more people back to work. New research found that states ending benefits early didn’t meaningfully boost employment and instead led workers to decrease spending to compensate, hurting local economies. 
  • UI benefits have served as an economic lifeline for millions of workers and families. The emergency boosts to UI during the pandemic — $600 a week until July 31 of last year and now $300 — have been especially critical since UI benefits in many states only cover a fraction of worker’s lost wages.
  • Policies that protect workers from being forced into jobs with poverty-level wages are good for our economy, full stop. Strong social safety net measures like UI make our labor market stronger, build worker power, and are essential to an equitable and just recovery.  
  • Enhanced UI benefits disproportionately support Black and brown workers who have historically been left behind in recoveries. As Lindsay Owens told Forbes last week, “the historic inequities in the labor market will be laid even more bare” after Monday’s benefits cutoff.
  • UI benefits boost consumer spending and generate growth that reverberates throughout the economy. Enhanced UI benefits are an essential part of a healthy recovery that centers workers and local communities and should continue until we are on stronger economic footing.


About Groundwork Collaborative

The Groundwork Collaborative’s mission is to advance an economic vision for strong, broadly shared prosperity and true opportunity for all. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @groundwork.